Nigerian born director Julius Onah has given us the story of Luce, an overachieving Eritrean born adolescent who is living “a perfect life” that in reality is a perfect lie.
The very essence of Luce is that the black African-born American can never be white. This would be irrelevant in a world where his color meant nothing. That is, of course, not our world. Our young hero, his Caucasian American adoptive parents, his best friend, his lover, and his history teacher are all swept up in the complex vortex of his unfulfilled existence. This story has no end.
The eternal mendacity that each character clings to is both mesmerizing and devastating. It is vivid and complex. It is narrative at its very best.
The casting is flawless. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as his parents and the always effective Octavia Spencer as his teacher are stunning. But nothing can detract from Kelvin Harrison, Jr. who as Luce is almost assured an Academy Award nomination for his deeply layered performance.
This film poses many questions but gives us no answers. The pain is eternal. Originally performed onstage in New York, Luce is a must see!
Luce is currently playing at the Century 12 Riverside Theater.